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Running, reclining and rising

Running, reclining and rising

The fitness app, desk chair and alarm clock best-suited to three different tribes of Economist readers

The fitness app, desk chair and alarm clock best-suited to three different tribes of Economist readers

Richard Ensor | April/May 2016

Fitness apps
Perpetual student
Technology is getting better at using financial incentives to boost our motivation to exercise. Charity Miles is a free app that donates 25 cents to your chosen cause for every mile you walk or run. The developers source donations from willing companies, whose ads pop up on the screen as you move – though you’re likely only to have eyes for the road. Free

sound investor
Pact is an app for those who wish to reward themselves rather than others. It pays you if you achieve your diet and exercise goals – with the money of users who miss their own targets. Each trip to the gym skipped or plate of spinach ducked will cost you, while photographs of you working out, verified by other users, allow you to build up profit as well as muscle. Free

globetrotting plutocrat
Touchfit features over 500 videos of a former mixed-martial-arts fighter and gymnastics trainer chivvying you through a range of exercises. The app builds a unique workout based on your history and ability, and increases the difficulty over time. Workouts range from ten minutes to an hour, and the whole experience is gamified. $5 plus $4 subscription per month
 

Desk chairs 
PERPETUAL STUDENT
Office-dwellers spend up to a fifth of their lives at their desk and need, above all else, a decent chair. Guaranteed to last ten years, the Ikea Markus does everything a good chair ought to do at a very reasonable price: it’s comfortable, adjustable and tiltable, while the mesh backrest is the salvation of the sweaty-back brigade. $199

SOUND INVESTOR
Office-furniture manufacturer Steelcase claims that the prevalence of electronic devices means that humans sit at work in ways they never have before. With manipulable armrests and a large seat to allow curling up, the Gesture supports the widest array of postures of any chair on the market. It’s not cheap, but it might save you thousands at the osteopath. $974

GLOBETROTTING PLUTOCRAT
The Herman Miller Embody is several years old now but nobody has designed a more comfortable chair since. It is constructed around a backrest that mimics a human spine – it stretches and bends as the sitter moves. Owners of the Embody report their backs cracking in the first week of use – a sign of body parts at last falling into place – and improved posture not long after. $1,229
 

Alarm Clocks
PERPETUAL STUDENT
There has recently been a flurry of innovations to make waking up a more efficient and enjoyable experience. One of these is the Ruggie, an alarm and floor-mat hybrid that switches off only when you stand on it. Built-in speakers also deliver pre-programmed exhortations to arise. It’s most effective if placed on the other side of the room from the bed. $99

SOUND INVESTOR
Those who would like to start their mornings less abruptly should choose the Philips HF3520/01, a “wake-up light” alarm that simulates sunrise. A dim red light changes into a bright yellow over 30 minutes. Aural accompaniments include chirping birds and rustling wind chimes. If you can trust yourself not to sleep through the show, your body will thank you: research shows it is healthier to be gradually coaxed out of sleep than jarred awake. $169

GLOBETROTTING PLUTOCRAT
Sensorwake is an alarm clock that produces aromas which, its creators say, are sufficiently pungent to rouse you: olfactory awakeners include the scents of coffee, croissants, the beach and even money (if that’s the thing that gets you out of bed). For heavy sleepers or those suffering from a cold, a back-up ringer kicks in after three minutes. $109 + $5 for extra aroma packs

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